Integrating electoral registration into public service transactions

Summary

We examined the feasibility of options enabling simultaneous voter registration applications to be made alongside accessing other public services, thereby increasing the number of channels available to citizens and improving the accessibility of the process.

Summary

We developed several implementation options, each of which would involve information provided during the original transaction serving as the basis for an electoral registration application, should the citizen so wish.

Our preferred option involved transactional data being saved to the source (e.g. DVLA) database and then transferred to the online registration website via a secure route.

While this would involve some development work for the Government Digital Service (to redevelop the IER hub) and for each Data Source Organisation, the reforms are feasible from a technical perspective.

Public service transactions

We first reviewed existing attempts to integrate electoral registration into other services in the UK within the current legal framework. 

Public service transactions

Summary

These types of initiative have undoubtedly been successful and could be developed more widely. We will continue to pursue these in the short-term, such as through the sharing of good practice.

However, we were also interested in the extent to which the electoral registration process could be integrated more completely into other online public services – for example, by allowing a person to apply to register to vote when making a driving licence or passport application.

It was the latter level of integration that formed the principal focus of the feasibility study.

Data and infrastructure

Currently there is no real integration between electoral registration and other online public services. We examined various ways in which data from a source website (e.g. the DVLA online transaction web form) could be sent to the online registration website and from there pre-populate fields in the electoral registration web form.

Our preferred option involved transactional data being saved to the source (e.g. DVLA) database and then transferred to the online registration website via a secure route (API and IER hub). This would involve some initial development for each DSO, dependent on the current structure and environment of the source website and database.

The type and format of data captured in DSO online forms would also be important considerations in developing an integrated system.

Ideally, there would need to be an acceptable number of fields available from a DSO online transaction that could be reused in an online electoral registration application in order to justify integrating the electoral registration process with a particular service.

The format of the reusable data from the DSO online transaction would also need to be compatible with electoral registration data formats.

For example, if a citizen entered address data in a DSO online form that was then populated on the online electoral registration application form, the format of the address data in the source system would need to be compatible with the address format used for electoral registration.

Integrating electoral registration into public service transactions: implementation scenarios

We developed and tested two implementation scenarios that could potentially deliver a more integrated system of electoral registration system in the UK. We again considered models from other countries in developing the scenarios.

For example, in Canada, most government forms feature an optional checkbox for eligible voters to share information with Elections Canada, while in the USA voter registration is integrated with driving licence application, renewal, and change of address processes.

Both of the options we developed and tested could be implemented with some redevelopment of existing infrastructures (e.g. to allow for the secure pre-populating of an online electoral registration application form), including:

  • establishing a link, e.g. API between DSOs and the IER hub;
  • further development of the IER hub; and
  • potential development of the DSO databases.

Issues and challenges in integrating electoral registration with other public services

Last updated: 26 July 2019
Next review: 25 July 2020